How does Steinbeck portray the character of Crooks in Of Mice and Men?
The novella Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck during the 1930s. The novella is set in Soledad, California, ironically this term ‘Soledad’ means isolation and loneliness in Spanish which is clearly the life many characters lead in the novella. In this time of economic hardship, we follow the journey of two migrant workers, George and Lenny; both with a dream. A dream of having land of their own, however this is proven difficult to achieve as they face many obstacles. Travelling from place to place, the two find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, meeting many new characters. Crooks being one of them. Crooks is a crippled Negro stable buck living a isolated and lonely life because of his skin colour. The name Crooks derives from his crooked back, caused by a horse kick in his earlier years. He faces cruel discrimination, almost animalistic. Although his name is Crooks, he is often referred to as nigger. This brings his colour into his name unlike any other character in the novella. We are first introduced to Crooks by Candy, an old ranch worker, “swamper” as he is often called. He tells George and Lenny that the “stable bucks a nigger” then goes on to say, “Yeah... Nice fella too”. This was not said in a derogatory manner and therefore shows the casual use of the term ‘nigger’, which in this day and age would be considered highly offensive. This shows the change of attitude towards black people since the novella was written nearly 80 years ago. In the 1930’s black people of America did not have a very high status, they were not allowed to vote; there was a clear division between black and white people. Crooks character mirrors 1930s America. As his situation was what the black community were also facing. From his past experiences we see how Crooks is very cynical towards the American dream, but at one point in the novella this seems to change. Crooks appears to be a...
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